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Supreme Court bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao issued notice and has asked Centre and all States and UTs to file response in a PIL file by a former MLA, Swami Agnivesh seeking immediate relief to the poor, informal sector workers, slum dwellers, homeless and economical weaker section living in hunger due to the outbreak of pandemic disease COVID-19 and Nationwide Lockdown.

It has been alleged in the petition that the Government hardly made any provision for providing basic humanitarian aid and emergency services for the poor for the period of Lockdown. Employment came to an end, wages were stopped, accesses to medical services were restricted and the people were left to starve.

However, it has also been mentioned in the petition that the Centre as well as many State governments took initiative for providing relief packages but the feedback from the ground is that these reliefs mainly remain in paper only. It has been reported by the petitioner’s activists on the ground report that in Delhi thousands of workers begun walking from different parts of the Delhi towards the U.P. Border. “…no where could feeding Centers be seen. Men, Women and Children were walking for days. Not even drinking water was available on the way. In the existing Shelter Homes hundreds if not thousands of people gathered in the hope of finding food and water.”

The petition also mentioned that it is also important that the delivery mechanisms for all the schemes being provided by the Government are put in place in a sensitive manner. Accessing banks will be almost impossible for most of the beneficiaries. Some way of making the cash available at the community will need to be worked out – through gram panchayats and banking correspondents.

Matter is listed on 7th April, 2020.

-India Legal Bureau

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